Image courtesy of MAJH12 under a creative commons licence.

A few weeks ago we talked about the hurdles of content marketing in financial services, specifically complicated approval processes, busy subject matter experts, and lack of C-suite buy-in.

But that just gets us around the first turn. Marketers working to create useful and creative content in their organizations have a long race to run, with plenty of obstacles in the way. The good news? These hurdles are far from insurmountable, and many organizations have already figured out how to clear them.

So without further ado, let’s find out how content marketers in financial services can overcome 3 more hurdles in their industry.

The Persona Hurdle

Problem: It’s hard to be clear about who you’re trying to target, at what stage, and how you’ll provide them with the content they need.

You’re on your mark, you’re ready, and BOOM. Your content falls flat on its face before it even gets going.

Why might this happen? Lack of preparation. Financial content marketing requires a lot of targeted content. You could be reaching parents with young children, small business owners, teenagers, self-employed people, retirees…

And to add to the confusion, the needs of each of these buyers is different depending on their stage in the buyer’s journey. With investments for example, your potential and current customers could be trying to understand the lingo, researching their options, considering adding to their savings plans, or contemplating a move to another provider. All of these people and stages require specific content to help them move to the next stage of their journey.

Solution: Write down the range of personas which you want to target, and understand that this list may be quite long. Then for each persona recognize that their are multiple buying stages.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of this is Allstate’s blog. Selling insurance and retirement products, they create focused content for motorcyclists, homeowners, car drivers, boat owners, recreational vehicle owners (people who own snowmobiles, for example), upcoming retirees and small-business owners.

Motorcyclists – just one of the many personas Allstate insurance aim at with their blog.

Allstate then breaks down that persona even further. For new motorcyclists, they have a Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycles: which one is right for you?, followed by safety tips such as inspecting your motorcycle. Then for more experienced riders, they have content such as 5 Tips for Ultimate Motorcycle Road Trips. In addition, they also create content for parents who are worried about their teenage children getting on motorbikes.

Understanding that wide range of personas is key to getting content marketing to work in your financial services organization.

The Regulation Hurdle

Problem: If you don’t have a clear content approval process, producing content becomes very slow and inefficient. This can lead to frustration.

Then, regulation adds another hurdle in your way. Financial products can affect people’s lives significantly, so your content needs to be factually correct. This is more than a best practice, but it may be a legal issue. And because compliance regulations must be checked during the content process, there are extra layers of approval that can really slow you down.

Solution: Have a clear content process where everyone knows the workflows and their responsibilities.

Is content taking too long to approve? See where the bottlenecks are in the process and talk to the people responsible about how it could be fixed. Make sure every contributor or stakeholder with a role in content strategy, production, and distribution understands exactly what they need to do and when. Also, if your organization produces content on a large scale, you may want to consider investing in technology to manage the workflow process and timelines.

When I was working with a small financial services company we didn’t have a clear content process. Our compliance team didn’t understand how much they would need to be involved with approving content. Having a clear process, and good systems would have made content marketing much easier and more regulation-friendly.

The Engagement Hurdle

Problem: Due to the nature of financial services, and the long content process, it may seem hard to create engaging content.

If writing lots of targeted content whilst tiptoeing across the minefield of regulation isn’t enough, financial services content marketers also have to be engaging. And because of the process issues covered above, “engaging” often becomes an afterthought.

Solution: You don’t always have to talk about your products. Instead, focus on the concerns, challenges, or interests of each of your personas.

Here are three great examples:

LPL Financial has an excellent YouTube Channel which discusses financial news and interviews fund managers. Their most popular videos have been ones where they have explained financial news (see above) and where they have made sense of the complex financial markets. This engages their target audiences of financial advisors and investors.

Farmers Insurance has a different tactic to reach their audience. With their micro-site “15 Seconds of Smart,” they create short, funny videos which explain how to avoid disasters. These videos aren’t long, and they’re a perfect mix of humor and education.

Allstate focuses on brilliant storytelling on their blog to capture engagement for each of their personas. They also launched 8 local blogs, targeting specific cities. As Allstate’s Director of Web and Social engagement, Elizabeth Schreier says, “Our teams work very hard to craft meaningful stories and images to connect our products to consumers.”

Plan for these hurdles and you’ll get ahead

Remember that all of your company’s competitors in the financial services space are likely to have the same challenges as you. However, if you can plan for these hurdles with a clear content strategy, content workflow and then create engaging content, you’ll sprint ahead of the competition.

Whether that’s getting lots of traffic or leads, or a promotion in your job, getting over these hurdles is your key to your success.